Life Changing Small Moments

by Leo Pound on December 30, 2014


As we near the end of 2014, I always like to reflect a bit. Sometimes it’s about family, business and related goals. As I was thinking about my 2014 filled with so much change, it made me think about how I ended up where I am today. I am a big believer in things happening for a reason and for working hard to achieve goals. That being said, there are three people I can easily recall that played important roles in my life as I made career decisions. All three of them probably have no idea the part that they played, no idea that a small moment in time changed my life dramatically. Here’s a little about each moment and how it inspired and changed me.

College Accounting Professor: In college, I certainly wasn’t the ideal student. Although from a business perspective, I couldn’t have been a more diligent, focused person. I didn’t have a free ride.  I had no scholarships, no college fund set up by my parents.  I paid for my education by working multiple jobs and attending classes at night.  Back to how this person shaped my life. As I said, I wasn’t the ideal student.  I did my work, often absolutely exhausted. I worked at night at Sears and Yellow Freight to pay for tuition, rent and food.  I was sitting in class freshman year and a professor told me I could not pass his class and work full time, you see he to had a similar upbringing and had to work hard to make it to college and graduate.   One day in class I was very bluntly told that ‘I would never be successful.  I was not choosing the right career path.’  Imagine as a college kid, working hard to pay your own way, and having a professor say this to you? For me, it was actually a blessing in disguise.  I certainly didn’t know it at the time. But, those words spoken to me by a professor whose name I remember to this day, actually made me work even harder.  I had to prove the doubter wrong.

College Friend: Despite the doubt and naysayers, I graduated, passed the CPA exam, and was hired by Ernst and Young as an accountant.  It was my first real, professional job.  I was making $9,000 a year and thought I hit the lottery.  Being a part of a large firm was interesting to say the least.  There were a lot of politics, a lot of positioning and a lot of after hours networking.  As a 22 year old, I just wasn’t fitting in.  Many of my co-workers had a family legacy at the firm.  Many also had a long list of friends in the business world.  I was a city kid, that grew up with no role models in business.  Although, hats off to my mother, who worked at Acme for years as an accountant – although she wasn’t formally educated in the field. Anyway, one day a college friend, a woman, told me she was taking me shopping.  I had no idea, but apparently I was being made fun of because of my clothes.  She was kind enough to take me to Brooks Brothers and help me pick out a few suits.  This truly changed my career.  I now no longer looked like the kid from the city – I was now looking and playing the part of a successful young business person.

Business Advisor: After a long a successful career in public accounting, I like many more before me went into the traditional path of Controller, to VP of Finance and finally CFO.  During that tenure I continued to work hard, and in the process made good decisions that resulted in significant gains for my employer and the owners.  And while I was well paid, the riches went to others.  I thought hard about this and along the way, I had met an investment banker that I learned to respect.  One day I asked him what I was doing wrong. Why did others continue to gain the lion share of the riches? His response, “you’re a smart guy, you will figure it out.”  Some years later I saw him and said ” I figured it out. I now work for myself and have seen my personal gains mount quickly.”  His response, “I told you that you were a smart guy. You figured it out.”  I am proud to say we are still friends, some 25 years later.

Working for yourself is one of the most rewarding things a person can do. Not only do you get to determine who, you also get to say why, and to what end.  Your career is what you make of it. My days are still filled with learning and making a difference to those clients I am grateful to work with.

In the past three years I have expanded my horizons and added the title of College Professor to my resume. I teach a segment in the executive MBA program at Lehigh University in PA.  My goal is to give my students a different experience, to encourage them to stretch, try to grasp new ideas and learn how to apply that knowledge learned, in their daily interaction with peers, clients and customers.

Have you had life changing moments? Do you remember who was involved and the impact they had on your life?

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Leo Pound

As Pound Consulting Inc.’s founder and principal, Leo Pound is responsible for day-to-day operations, as well as building partnerships, maintaining relationships and providing value to all clients. Born and raised in Philadelphia, Leo has spent most of his career helping companies around the world.  He has worked with many multi-national companies – including ones based or operating in China, Australia, Canada, England, Germany, Japan and more. He has in- depth knowledge of operational and strategic planning, M&A, forecasting and budgeting and cost containment. Leo is a hands-on professional who is sensitive to the pressures and challenges facing a troubled or rapidly growing company and their management team.

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